Career Progression in Partnerships: How to Win Your Next Promotion

Career Progression in Partnerships: How to Win Your Next Promotion

In a profession where relationships and strategic alliances play a pivotal role, knowing the right moves to make at the right time can be the difference between stagnation and stepping up the ladder.

In a profession where relationships and strategic alliances play a vital role, knowing the right moves to make at the right time can be the difference between stagnation and stepping up the ladder as a partnerships manager.

This is what Russell Bradley-Cook, EMEA Partner Manager at HubSpot, Carina Conaghan, Head of Partner Development SI’s UKI at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Thorunn Devoy, VP of Partnerships at Talon.One, and Alexis Petrichos, Director of Strategic Partnerships & Ecosystem Marketing at Chili Piper, discussed this in a panel discussion.

Experts share their insights on how to get your next promotion as a partnerships manager.

The Leap from Execution to Strategy

A common thread in the narratives of successful partnership managers is the transition from merely executing tasks to actively shaping strategies. As partnership professionals, your ability to think ahead, anticipate trends, and propose innovative solutions is pivotal. 

It’s not just about delivering short-term wins but also aligning these victories with the organization’s long-term objectives, demonstrating your capability to think and act beyond your current role.

Alexis advises coupling short-term successes with strategic planning: “Bring the short-term wins and then use that confidence to really roll out your agenda.” 

This approach showcases your immediate value to the organization and your potential to contribute significantly in a more advanced role. It’s about painting a picture of the future where your vision and strategy lead to sustained growth and success for your career and the organization.

A Preemptive Approach to Leadership

Carina stresses the importance of taking initiative and leading by example, even if the formal title has yet to be bestowed. 

“If you want to be a leader, you have to first act like a leader,” she says. 

This means adopting a mindset and approach that reflects your desired role. It involves:

  • Taking ownership of projects
  • Guiding teammates
  • Contributing ideas influencing the team’s direction

For a partnerships manager, this might mean taking the lead in complex negotiations, proactively seeking new partnership opportunities, or innovating how partnerships are managed and measured within your organization.

Conaghan adds, “Doing the job of the team lead without being announced as a team lead really shows your skill sets across that management level.” 

It’s about showing, not just telling, that you’re ready for the next step. When the time comes for promotions, your actions will have made a compelling case for your advancement.

Two Core Traits for Career Progress in Partnerships

Resilience and curiosity emerge as pivotal traits for those aiming to progress their careers.

Resilience in partnership management is about adapting to changes, overcoming setbacks, and continually searching for effective strategies. Devoy points out the importance of trying different approaches until you find the one that yields results.

Curiosity, on the other hand, fuels innovation and the exploration of new opportunities. 

A curious partnerships manager always looks for:

  • Emerging trends
  • Potential collaborations
  • Innovative solutions to existing problems

This trait ensures that you’re not just keeping up with the changes in the industry but are also a step ahead, identifying and capitalizing on opportunities that others might miss.

Carina notes that a robust partner manager is “really definitely resilient in the business development and enjoying that part of it.”

Embracing resilience and curiosity positions yourself as an invaluable asset to your team, paving the way for career advancement.

Communicating Your Value in Negotiations

Alexis emphasizes the importance of aligning your career ambitions with your organization’s strategic goals. 

He advises, “Use these wins to really match them to a strategic long-term goal for the company.”

When your goals and the company’s goals are in sync, negotiating for promotion becomes a discussion about mutual benefit, not just personal advancement.

Thorunn adds another layer to this strategy by recommending thorough research and a clear understanding of what you bring to the table. 

“Once you know what you want, do the research and also figure out what you bring to the table and why they should consider you,” she said.

Communicating your value effectively involves more than listing your achievements. It’s also about framing them to illustrate your understanding of the business, your role in its growth, and your readiness for increased responsibility. This strategic communication is vital in navigating career negotiations successfully.

Understanding the Partner’s Perspective

Knowing your own business inside out is not enough to thrive and advance in partnership management. You must also deeply understand the following:

  • How your partners make money
  • What drives their success
  • How your collaboration can support their goals

Thorunn highlights the importance of this understanding: “Building a strong partnership is about identifying opportunities where both partners can win.” 

This level of understanding and strategic alignment sets apart a good partnerships manager from a great one. It’s a highly valued skill and often a deciding factor in who gets promoted and who doesn’t.


Advancing your career as partnerships manager hinges on a blend of strategic thinking, leadership qualities, a deep understanding of partner dynamics, and a customer-centric approach. Remember, the path to career advancement is as much about showcasing your current contributions as it demonstrates your potential for future impact and growth.

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